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Crypto Jews, Conversos, Marranos & Anusim

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  • John Baptista (c.1600 - 1667)
    John Baptista , an Italian physician and apothecary living in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was probably a converted Jew. He might have been father or brother of Rebecca (Baptista) Vance , wife of Joseph V...
  • Jeronimo / Hieronimo Bassano da Ponte (1480 - 1545)
    Jeronimo Bassano also see John Izon, Italian Musicians at the Tudor Court (The Music Quarterly) Giulio Ongar, New Documents on the Bassano Family (Early Music, August 1992) Hieronymous Bass...
  • Alonso Trastámara Enríquez de Castilla y Angulo, I almirante mayor de Castilla (c.1357 - 1429)
    Mother is listed different see below page - copied from ================== Mother is listed different as: Nombre desconocido "La Paloma" Birth: ? Decease: ? Spouse and children Fa...
  • C.S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)
    Ancestry of C. S. Lewis Clive Staples Lewis commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis was born (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), and known to his friends and family as "Jack", w...
  • Pierre de Nostredame (deceased)
    Grandfather of Nostradamus . Guy Gassonet, had converted to Catholicism around 1455, taking the Christian name "Pierre" and the surname "Nostredame" (the latter apparently from the saint's day on whi...

Crypto Judaism

The Sephardi Odyssey Exquisite pictorial video.

Vatican Library Resource



  • Anusim = forced converts (Hebrew), preferred term for descendants of Iberian converts
  • Converso = convert (Spanish), applies to former Jews
  • Crypto-Jew = applies to converso or descendent who practices Judaism in secret.


Hakham Se‘adyá ben Maimón ibn Danan, one of the most respected Sephardic Sages after the Expulsion, in the 15th century stated:

Indeed, when it comes to lineage, all the people of Israel are brethren. We are all the sons of one father, the rebels (reshaim) and criminals, the heretics (meshumadim) and forced ones (anusim), and the proselytes (gerim) who are attached to the house of Jacob. All these are Israelites. Even if they left God or denied Him, or violated His Law, the yoke of that Law is still upon their shoulders and will never be removed from them.

Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides) stated in the Mishneh Torah Sefer Shofetím, Hilekhót Mumarím 3:3

But their children and grandchildren [of Jewish rebels], who, misguided by their parents . . . and trained in their views, are like children taken captive by the gentiles and raised in their laws and customs (weghidelúhu haGoyím al dathám)


Marranos (Spanish: [maˈranos], Portuguese: [mɐˈʁanuʃ], Galician: [maˈranos]; Catalan: Marrans, IPA: [məˈrans]), or 'secret Jews', were Sephardic Jews, or Jewish people living in the Iberian peninsula, who had converted to Catholicism-Christianity in Castile and Aragon (Spain) yet secretly practiced their old rites.

This term came into use in 1492 with the Castilian Alhambra Decree, reversing protections in the Treaty of Granada (1491), and used for conversos, or 'confirmed converts', at first.

However, soon Marranos was used for people who continued to practice Judaism secretly, crypto-Jews preserving their Jewish identity, 'the secret Jews' or judíos escondidos. In Hebrew, forced converts were known as anusim, which means forced ones, though the term would also include those who did not retain their Judaism.

Marrano in 15th century Spanish first meant pig, from the ritual prohibition against eating pork, practiced by both Jews and Muslims. Marrano acquired connotations of "filthy-dirty" (sucio) and "unscrupulous" (sin escrúpulos) during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, when the term was used to impugn the character of the recalcitrant crypto-Jew.

In contemporary Spanish the word is no longer associated with Jews. In contemporary Portuguese the word refers only to crypto-Jews, with marrão meaning the animal pig or swine.

The converts were also known as conversos, and as Cristianos nuevos and Cristãos novos (new Christians) in Spain and Portugal, respectively.


Under state pressure in the late 15th century, an estimated 100,000–200,000 Jews in the Iberian Peninsula converted to Christianity. The numbers who converted and the effects of various migrations in and out of the area have been the subject of considerable debate by historians.


A phylogeographic study in 2008 of 1150 volunteer Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups appeared to support the idea that the number of forced conversions has been significantly underestimated, as 20% of the tested Iberian population had haplogroups consistent with Sephardic ancestry. This percentage was suggested as representing the proportion of Sephardi in the population at the time of mass conversions in the 14th and 15th centuries. However, these results have not been replicated in the broad array of genetic studies that have looked at Iberian heritage,and the conclusion has been questioned even by the authors themselves and by Stephen Oppenheimer, who pointed out that much earlier migrations, 5000 to 10,000 years ago from the Eastern Mediterranean, might also account for these haplogroup proportions.


Crypto-Jewish Link of CS Lewis

  1. Clive Staples Lewis
  2. Albert James Lewis born 1863
  3. Richard Lewis married Martha Gee of Liverpool
  4. Joseph Lewis born 1803 married Jane Lewis daughter of Richard Lewis of Flintshire Wales and his wife Jane Ellis
  5. George IV King of England and his mistress Mrs Mary Lewis (nee Goldsmith/Goldsmid)

Note: Some researchers had Rosaline West married to her father-in-law William (b.1830) instead of to his son William born in 1848. 

Also some have confused William (b.1848)'s maternal grandfather Ebenezer Lewis b.1800 with a different Ebenezer who was b.1814. William b.1848 was reared by his grandparents Ebenezer and Mary Lewis.  

Lewis families of Flintshire Wales.

Clive Staples Lewis and his brother Warren are the children of Albert James Lewis who was born in Cork Ireland in 1863.

Albert James Lewis was the son of Richard Lewis who was born about 1832 (possibly in Birmingham, Norley Cheshire or Flintshire Wales).

Richard Lewis at the age of 19 went to Cork Ireland with his wife Martha Gee of Liverpool in 1853. He was a boiler maker.

William Lewis, his older brother, was also a boiler maker who married Martha Lewis (daughter of Ebenezer Lewis and Mary Williams).

William Lewis, William and Martha's son, (b.1848 Hawarden Flintshire) was also a boiler maker and he married Rosaline West of Norley Cheshire the daughter of Simeon Levi West and Mary Ann Payne (believed to be the granddaughter of George IV and Maria Fitzherbert).

John Lewis and Joseph Lewis, Richard's brothers, were also boiler makers who went with Richard to Ireland.

Samuel Lewis, another brother, (b.1837 Birmingham) was a Jewish financier.

Jane Lewis, their mother, was the daughter of Richard Lewis of Flintshire Wales.

Joseph Lewis, their father, (born 1803) was an illegitimate son of George IV by his Jewish mistress Mrs Mary Lewis (nee Goldsmith).

Richard Lewis of Flintshire Wales was born in Norley Cheshire about 1775. Richard moved to Wales where he married a local girl called Jane Ellis who was of crypto -Jewish background.

William Lewis, Richard's brother, married the former mistress of George IV in Brighton.

Joseph Lewis was brother to Samuel Lewis (b.1801), James Graham Lewis (b.1804), George Coleman Hamilton Lewis (b.1806 Portsmouth) and Mary Ann Lewis (b.1809).

Joseph Lewis, a son of George IV, went as a boy to live with his step-uncle Richard Lewis in Caergwrle Flintshire and later he married his step-cousin Jane Lewis (they were no blood relative).

Joseph was a crypto- Jew attending the Anglican Church for social reasons who later became a Methodist minister.

Samuel Lewis, Joseph's older brother, was trained by his step -father as a maltster in Brighton at the Black Lion Brewery and later went to live with his step-father's sister Mrs Mary Woodhouse (nee Lewis) at Norley Hall in Cheshire. He later became the owner of the Tiger Head Inn in Norley and a local farmer and land owner. Family tradition states that he was known as the Squire of Norley.

James Lewis and George Lewis, Joseph's brothers, went to live with their Jewish step-uncle Edward Henry Lewis and his wife Sarah Raphael (daughter of Nathaniel Raphael and Shinah Jane Levy) in London where they studied Law and became Jewish lawyers.

Edward Henry Lewis, their step-uncle had three children

  1. .Charles Lewis (who married Sophia Levy),
  2. Louis Lewis of Jamaica, and
  3. Catherine Lewis who converted to Catholicism on her marriage to George Drew Keogh.

Due to their step uncle and aunt rearing the two boys as their own sons the relationships in the family have confused some researchers.


Of Marranos and Musicians

Did Jewish 'Ministers of Pastime' shape the music of the Tudor Court?

  What's in a name? Shakespeare may have found little of value, but for historians investigating the music of Tudor England, a handful of names unlocked a secret history at the very root of art music in England.

Roger Prior, a retired lecturer in English Literature at Belfast University, investigated the names of the instrumentalists imported from Italy in the late 1530s by Henry VIII and found that one by one they revealed their bearers to be Jewish.

Some of these Jews - among them the Bassanos, Comys and Lupos - were to found musical dynasties that definitively shaped the English style and dominated the King's music.

This weekend, the English viol consort Fretwork presents a concert dedicated to the music of these Jewish musicians in New York before taking the program on a tour through the United States. Fretwork, one of the premier early music ensembles in Britain, had long been performing music by one of the descendants of the first generation of Italian immigrants without suspecting his identity. "We had been playing Thomas Lupo without knowing where he came from, or what his antecedents were," says Richard Boothby, a founding member.

How these Jewish musicians came to England had always been well documented: in preparation for his fourth marriage, Henry VIII instructed his ambassadors to seek out the best "musicians and other ministers of pastime" throughout Europe and bring them to his court.

An English resident in Venice identified four brothers thought to be among the best musicians in the city and recruited them for the king - against the express wishes of the Venetian government, which refused to grant the Bassano brothers permits to leave the city.

The Bassanos, all wind players, were soon followed by a group of six string players, also from Venice. With first names like Alberto, Vincenzo and Antonio, and family names denominating towns in northern Italy - Bassano, Vicenza and Milan - there was nothing about them identifying them as Jews. But according to Prior, the musicians had one set of names they used in official business, and another set of names which were revealed only in private or at rare documented moments, such as the witnessing of wills.

In these,

  • "John Anthony" became "Anthonius Moyses,"
  • "Peregrine Symonds" became "Simon de Maion" and
  • "Antony Maria" signed as Cuson or Cossin, both variants of the name Gershon.

Another musician, Ambrose of Milan, appeared in one record as "deolmaleyex," which Prior convincingly interprets as an English scribe's awkward attempt to transliterate the name "de Almaliach."

Beyond the Jewish character of these names, the discovery of these "secret" names was significant for the evidence they provided of a Spanish, and in some cases Portuguese, origin of the musicians.

De Almaliach, or Elmaleh, was a well-known Jewish family from pre-expulsion Spain. Two other string players in the King's consort, George and Innocent de Combe, could be traced back to Coimbra in Portugal.

Of course the very fact that the Italian musicians had been active in Venice outside the Ghetto - as the Senate's attempt to keep them in the city suggests - is evidence that they were Marranos who had settled in Venice, living outwardly as Christians.

Their official names, including several Johns and Baptists, confirm this. But the uncovering of the crypto-Jewish identity of the musicians, together with their Iberian roots, allowed Prior to shed light on an episode in Anglo-Jewish history which had long been a riddle.

"Toward the end of 1541, Henry VIII received information that some Portuguese nationals living in London were 'secret Jews,'" recounts Prior. "Normally, so far as one can tell, he would have taken little notice of such an accusation. All his other actions suggest that, if anything, he tended to favor Jews rather than persecute them.

But the circumstances were exceptional. He was anxious at this time to ally himself more closely with the Emperor Charles V, and the prosecution of crypto-Jews was one way of showing himself a true Catholic and a friend of Spain.

Around Christmas time of 1541, these 'certain persons' were imprisoned and their property confiscated." The imperial envoy in London, Eustace Chapuy, reported the arrests to the chief minister in Spain. However, due to pressure from the Emperor's sister, and of the King and Queen of Portugal, Chapuys was forced to retract his accusations and ask Henry VIII to free them again. When they were released, in March 1543, Chapuys wrote in a bitter letter to Madrid: "Most likely, however well they may sing, they will not be able to fly away from their cages without leaving some of their feathers behind." Chapuys seemed to be calling the prisoners songbirds, a metaphor for musicians.

"But," explains Prior, "this interpretation had always come up against the difficulty that no Portuguese or Jewish musicians were known of in Tudor England, and the remark has never been explained.

It is now no longer a problem, for we know that there were musicians in England who were both Portuguese and Jewish." In addition, court records showed that the other Jewish musicians left England abruptly at the time of their colleagues' arrest, and returned only the next summer when the affair had blown over.

The Jewish musicians stayed at the Tudor court, shaping the nature of English music. The appointment of the original six string players from Venice, incidentally, marks the first use of the word "violin" in English, although the terms viol, violin and violon would continue to be used interchangeably to describe the different-sized string instruments of the court band. Its function was essentially as a dance band, according to Boothby, and the rediscovery of some of the earlier viol music in Fretwork's new program brought to the surface the original Italian dance rhythms. "It was a discovery to play some of these more obscure composers. It's very clear, functional dance music," says Boothby of the Pavanes, Courantes, Allemandes and other dances the Jewish musicians brought over to England.

"By the end of the sixteenth century, it becomes much more intricate and arty, more sophisticated, but not as danceable as the music of the original generation. "The Lupo family established themselves as stalwarts of the royal music establishment and stayed there for a century," says Boothby. "They developed what came to be called the English style." In addition, they developed reputations as excellent instrument makers, with the Ashkenazic families specializing in wind instruments, and the Sephardic families in the making of string instruments.

The Bassanos turned out wind instruments that, according to contemporary records, were "so beautiful and good they are suited for dignitaries and potentates." And it was the daughter of one of these, Emilia Bassano, who may have left the greatest mark of all on English culture as Shakespeare's Dark Lady. The inspiration behind his central sonnets, the poet immortalized her beauty, wit and cruelty - but not her name. After all, what's in a name?